Troops Shoot At Protesters After Funeral In Bahrain

Government troops in Bahrain opened fire Friday on anti-government protesters after the funeral for one of the protesters killed earlier this week. Steve Inskeep talks with NPR's Peter Kenyon, who is in the capital, Manama. Kenyon was in the area as the gunfire broke out.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

Let's go next to Bahrain, where government troops opened fire on anti-government protestors today. It happened after the funeral for a protestor who was killed earlier this week. NPR's Peter Kenyon was there when the shooting broke out.

Peter, what happened?

PETER KENYON: Well, as you mentioned, there was the last of several funerals for young men and - and a couple old men, actually, who were killed in violence early Thursday morning. After the last funeral, there was very large crowd milling about, and they started walking towards the hospital, and we went along - by we, I mean a large group of international and Bahraini media - just to see if they would get there safely. As they got to a main intersection, they suddenly turned left, which took them back towards Pearl Square, the area where they had been forcibly cleared out of on Thursday. They started clapping their hands and shouting salmiya, salmiya, which means peaceful, peaceful.

And as they got close, suddenly, gunfire rang out. It sounded like live fire. And that was confirmed later by paramedics and witnesses. They said the army had opened fire - some shooting in the air, some shooting at protestors. And there have definitely been casualties.

INSKEEP: You don't know if it's killed or wounded at this point?

KENYON: I can't confirm it absolutely. I can tell you that I talked to one paramedic who said that he carried a dead young boy who'd been shot in the forehead back to the hospital, and a second one said he was carrying someone who had also been shot in a critical area and was not likely to survive. There have been, I'm sure, more than a dozen casualties, maybe twice that many. The numbers will certainly change.

INSKEEP: Yeah. And this is not just a medical question, but also a political question. You have a pattern that could be starting here, where people were killed the other day. Then you have the funerals. The funerals themselves become occasions for protest and possibly violence. That could be what's staring here.

KENYON: We're having more funerals again, soon. Now, I'm pretty sure, and you're quite right. It could start all over again.

INSKEEP: You mentioned Bahraini media were in the crowd, which raises a question for me, Peter Kenyon: How widely reported, inside Bahrain, are the events on the streets of the last several days?

KENYON: It's very difficult. They keep a tight control on the press here. There is one truly independent paper called al-Wasat. And there are many that try and do the best they can under very tight strictures to get the news out. And then there are some very state-controlled media, like state television, which pretty much gives the government line at all times.

INSKEEP: OK, Peter, thanks very much.

That's NPR's Peter Kenyon, in Bahrain.

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